i had random sex with several men during the year of 2010-2012, a few was unprotected sex but i don't remember how many and with who. i took HIV test in March 2011/March 2013/October 2013, all test results came back as negative. however, i don't know which type of HIV test i took, i just went to my family doctors (here in Vancouver) and ask for a test, and they gave me a result within the next 2 days and all of the results are negative.
what type of test would my doctor most likely to be using? how accurate are HIV tests and does some type are more accurate than the other, how easy is it to detect HIV virus with the tests, what is the chance of the result to be inaccurate?
since i have this doubt of possible exposure to HIV, and a huge regret of what i did in the past, until now my mind is still full of the fear of HIV... whenever i see any ads on the street about AIDS awareness or any wordings include these letters, or when i am have any illness in my body, i will always link to the thought of possible affection, my mind can't rest and my head is full of random thoughts of HIV. i even would have dreams about it.
for example right now two days ago i start to have this abnormal pain on my shoulder which the high level of the pain is something i never had before, it also make me have headaches. and i also have muscle ache here and there all over my body recently. now i can't help again but to link it to the thought of HIV.
can you please reassure me that i am safe and what should i do to get rid of the crazy thoughts of you-know-what...
i can't sleep well, i can't work, i can't act normal in front of my friends, i constantly have fear in my mind, this affects my mood so much... whenever i am alone, i will think many many random things...
i am afraid to take another test to prove that i am clean, what should i do?
Hello and thank you for contacting the AIDS Vancouver Helpline. I am happy to assist you.

It sounds like you are very distressed about the possibility of acquiring the HIV virus! I am going to break some things down to you to hopefully give you some comfort and provide you with accurate and trustworthy information. I will answer your questions in the order you asked them.

1. I cannot say which test your doctor used on you- but please trust that since it was done in a medical facility the test and its results are going to be very accurate for you. If I were to guess, I would guess that you took a 3rd generation ELISA test or a rapid test. It could also have been a 4th generation combo test if you doctor deemed that you had a high risk exposure. Keep in mind that these are only 3 out of many reliable tests.

2. HIV tests get more accurate with time (rather than with the number of tests taken) and can be considered conclusive after 3 months post-exposure. Since you took your tests many years after your original exposures, your results would be extremely accurate and conclusive. After 3 months, HIV tests are over 99% accurate. Before the 3 month mark can still be very accurate, but this depends on the type of test.

3. Some tests are more accurate than others after the 3 month mark, but the difference between the least accurate test and most accurate is about 0.9%. This means that one test is 99% accurate, and the highest accuracy one is 99.9%. Before 3 months, accuracy totally depends on the type of test and the time it was taken. The chances of it being inaccurate are below 1%. Please remember not to get hung up on the specific numbers for each test- it may not be in your best interest to stress about specific numbers and instead trust that your test results are conclusive.

4. HIV is easily detected with these tests, which is why they are so effective and accurate. These tests actually look for antigens and antibodies in your body that respond to the HIV virus, if an infection has occurred. Since the tests look for your own bodily processes, they are very hard to miss.

Just as a note, here at AIDS Vancouver we do not go by symptoms to determine status. This is because some people show them, others don't and they often get confused with other illnesses like the flu. For this reason I would not recommend immediately connecting your symptoms with HIV status.

Please do not regret your past sexual experiences and don't let them get in the way of future experiences. Sexual activity is a healthy and normal part of life- but it's always best to be smart about it and in control of your own decisions! In terms of your symptoms and excessive worry about HIV, I unfortunately cannot directly help you because I am not a trained counselor. Instead, I can tell you that your test results are very accurate and conclusive. Remember that you can only acquire HIV from a partner who is HIV positive to begin with- so if your original partners did not carry the virus you have nothing to worry about! Even if they are HIV positive, your test results are all that should matter to you in the end because testing is the only way to determine your own status.

If you require counseling services to help cope with your stress and worry, please call our helpline and we can redirect you to someone who can help.



AIDS Vancouver Helpline Online Volunteer

Monday-Friday 10am-4pm PST

604-253-0566 ext 299

Private and Confidential


Charitable Registration #
10668 9896 RR0001

© 2019
Privacy Policy


1101 Seymour Street
Suite 235, 2nd Floor
Vancouver, BC V6B 0R1


Main Phone: 604-893-2201
Fax: 604-893-2205